Thursday, October 19, 2006

Seriously, What Do You See In Her??

You know when a friend of yours -- someone you really like -- is starting to get serious about a significant other... and it's someone you can't stand? And you don't know if you should say something or not?

Because after all, if your friend loves this person, he or she must have qualities you don't see, right? But try though you might, it just kills you to be around that person, and you're dying to say something. Did you ever have that feeling?

Well, I've been going through that for the last month. I love Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, but I loathe Sarah Paulson.

Just like a friend would, the show keeps telling me how smart and funny and beautiful and wonderful she is... but dude, I'm not feeling it.

First of all, she looks like someone tried to build a Molly Sims without a blueprint. More important, every minute she's on screen I feel my soul dying a little. Of the 206 bones in the human body, not one of hers is funny.

But most important, every minute she's on screen is a minute I'm not seeing Bradley Whitford, Matthew Perry, or Amanda Peet, just to name three insanely talented examples. And this past week she had a scene (with the insanely talented Christine Lahti) that -- even though it was beautifully written -- seemed like it went on forever. It felt like Christine was the casting director and Paulson was doing audition sides... and I kept screaming at my TV, "NEXT!"

It's impossible for me to believe, IMHO, that Matthew Perry's character is dating sparkling, beautiful, sexy, funny Jeannie, yet he's pining away for this dishrag. And wouldn't it have been more interesting if the devout Christian character were not the pious, pie-eyed blonde dishrag, but was instead the sexy, funny brunette? (Ned Flanders remains the most lovable Christian in prime time.)

Still, I'm a big fan of Aaron Sorkin's and of Studio 60, so I want to believe she has hidden virtues I'm not seeing. But if she does, she'd better reveal them soon. Because, along with scheduling, NBC promoting the "will they won't they" with her is, I think, one of the things killing this show.


topcad said...

really? You loathe her? What about when she was doing the Holly Hunter impression. Come on.. that was pretty good...

Michael Markowitz said...

"loathe" is a strong word, of course. I love the show, so I got all worked up.

But even if her Holly Hunter impression was good -- and I'm not agreeing it was -- Holly Hunter? Juliette Lewis? If she were to audition for SNL with Holly Hunter and Juliette Lewis imitations they would tell her, "Thanks, we'll let you know when we're having the 1992 SNL auditions."

Bill Freiberger said...

I'm actually kind of surprised that you like the show at all? I watched the first couple of episdoes and was disappointed in each. Do you know people like that in television? Everyone is direct and says exactly what's on their mind. The Larry Sanders Show was much closer to the television world that I know.

Also, the comedy is terrible. Every week they need that genius bit, the one that's gonna make everyone take notice of the new direction of the show. Every week, nothing's good enough. It's not up to their high standards. It's not fresh enough. Not funny enough. Then they finally receive some gog-given inspiration for the great piece of fresh, new comedy material and it turns out to be a hamfisted performance of a Gilbert and Sullivan song parody with nary a joke. Am I to believe that the fictional 18 to 34 year olds int the fictional audience of the fictional sketch show love Gilbert and Sullivan?

This show just pisses me off.

Your pal,

Michael Markowitz said...

Hey, Bill!

Second question first: No disagreement, the comedy-within-the-show is lame beyond lame. They should hire actual sketch writers or not show the comedy at all. The G&S number was painful, and the Nancy Grace sketch, coming so soon after Amy Poehler's genius take, was agonizing.

But I am baffled by the first point. First of all, because I've worked with a LOT of people who say exactly what's on their minds. It's also agnozing.

But even if Studio 60 is unrealistic -- which it certainly is -- I don't care. I don't know any lawyers like the ones on Boston Legal, or any teenagers like the ones on Veronica Mars, but I love both shows.

howard said...

It's the same trouble I had with admen Michael and Elliot on "ThirtySomething." Were they supposed to be good, talentless hacks, or were their hacky ideas merely a function of Herskovitz and Zwick's low opinion of the craft of advertising writing.

Yes, Aaron, Mark Goffman-- how about hiring an underemployed comedy writer to type the messy interstitial commedia.

It's hard to believe that a show that flogs G&S cold opens and Commedia dell'arte jokes would last long enough to become a legendary comedy show. Commedia dell'farte would be more like it. After all, ours is a scum culture.

Of course, all would be forgiven if Christine Lahti were a regular. Grrrowll.

bill freiberger said...

I don't know any lawyers so I can't judge how closely TV lawyers reflect them. But my experience with people in television is that, for the most part, they smile at you and then stab you in the back when you're not looking.

Also, I don't think I've ever seen an executive stand up to his/her boss and tell him "this is what I'm doing, so either back off or fire me." Usually, the executive parrots what his/her superior thinks. It's almost always like the old joke, "I don't know what I think yet, no one else has read it."

Your pal,

Michael Markowitz said...

Howard, I don't know that thirtysomething was that "meta" -- though I never watched it -- but I know that there is a danger whenever you do a show about creative people. Even with writers as gifted as Aaron and Mark -- or the thirtysomething folks -- you are being asked to spend a small fraction of your week doing what your characters spend their ENTIRE week doing. It's impossible to do it as well.

Bill, I'm grateful that my experience in TV was apparently better than yours! Sure, I met scumbags aplenty -- in fact, the last studio executive I dealt with in TV made me vow never again to work at that studio until she gets the cancer she so richly deserves. But I've worked with the same percentage of great, decent people that I did when I worked in the aerospace or fragrance industries.

As for the Studio 60 exec who boldly stands up to her boss, remember that her boldness is what makes her character so unusual. Also this is, like the West Wing, a vision of what we'd LIKE to think things would be like if people would only do the right thing. That whether you're in TV or politics, it is possible to take the principled stand AND succeed... if the shows are fantasies, it's not the shows' fault, it's the world's fault.

Michael Markowitz said...

Speaking of friends dating below them, and Veronica Mars, am I the only one who can't see what she EVER saw in Logan??